Wellington Phoenix have been denied a much-needed win, playing out a 2-2 draw with Western Sydney in their A-League football clash at Wollongong.
The result lifts the Phoenix one point clear of last-placed Melbourne Victory.
With key players Luke DeVere, Tomer Hemed and Jaushua Sotirio all out due to injury, and David Ball suspended for this match, the Phoenix line-up saw Oliver Sail, Liam McGing, Louis Fenton and Ben Waine all making their first starts of the season - and regular starters Cameron Devlin and Joshua Laws on the bench, along with new signing Charles Lokoli-Ngoy.
The Phoenix scored early in the first half, with Mirza Muratovic slotting home a follow-up shot to put Wellington up 1-0 at the nine-minute mark, a lead they held until halftime.
The second half went back and forth, before the Wanderers equalised in the 71st minute, then struck again barely five minutes later to take a 2-1 lead.
The Phoenix equalised shortly after, thanks to a close-range header from Louis Fenton, assisted by a headed pass from Alex Rufer, after a set piece situation. Fenton's first goal of the season was the eighth of his A-League career.
"Going 1-0 up, I thought tactically we set up quite well for what we wanted to do," says Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay. "Considering we had a lot of players out, I think the other players stepped in and did a fantastic job.
"For Liam [McGing], Fenton and Ben Waine to get through 90 minutes was good. The players that came in, they stepped up and did what they needed to do, and Tim Payne also did a fantastic job playing as a central defender.
"Oli [Sail] had a great game for us. I thought, in his first game out there this season, he communicated well, made some good saves and punched a few balls - he's done a great job."
The Phoenix will now travel to Victoria for the first time this season to face Melbourne Victory on February 24, the second match in a gruelling stretch of three games in seven days.